At least on this count, one should give credit to the Narendra Modi government; that it is facilitating the growth of young leaders in the rival camp.
Whether the charges against the former president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) Kanhaiya Kumar are really true or not is for the court to decide. But one thing is clear: that is, a little-known student from the Begusarai district of Bihar has certainly become a leader in his own reckoning.
But he is not alone. In the last five years, the country has seen the emergence of a number of budding leaders.
Be it Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mewani, Alpesh Thakor in Gujarat, Chandrashekar Azad ‘Ravan’ in Uttar Pradesh or Tejashwi Prasad Yadav all owe their sudden rise to the mishandling of situation by the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Tejashwi in particular would never have risen so quickly had Nitish Kumar still been in the Grand Alliance. The BJP might have wooed him to its side and helped him become chief minister again but, in the process, allowed the emergence of Tejashwi as a formidable young challenger.
Otherwise his party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), had really been struggling to find a successor to Lalu Prasad.
In the same way, the JNU, like many other universities in the country, elects its president every year. But hardly anyone knows their names.
Today, not only Kanhaiya, but his other associates, remain in news for one reason or the other.
Three years back, when he first shot into prominence in the news, he was a much maligned person on many television channels. The media trial began and he and his friends were charged with sedition by several anchors.
Yet some objective media houses started inviting him and his friends for their side of the story.
However, a strange development started taking place months later. Now, even the media houses very critical of him started inviting him not only for his side of the story but also in their conclaves. They all forgot about his ‘anti-national’activities.
Perhaps they started realising that they have made this village boy from Bihar a full-fledged leader.
So, when, after his release in 2016, he came to Patna, the capital of his home state, he was greeted by thousands of people at the SK Memorial Hall.
Though it is not appropriate to mention his caste, yet a sizable number of them who gathered there were Bhumihars––who till then were––rightly or wrongly––considered as the strong supporters of the BJP.
Three years down the line when he was chargesheeted on January 14, he was in his home district, Begusarai. He was there as he is most likely to be fielded as the Lok Sabha candidate of the Communist Party of India. It is every likelihood that the Grand Alliance will support his candidature.
Before the advent of the tumultuous phase of Mandir-Mandal politics Begusarai was considered as the Leningrad of Bihar as it was the bastion of CPI.
More than a thousand days after February 9, 2016 incident in JNU many of those among the masses who were believing that he and his friends were involved in ‘anti national’activities now feel that the charges against them were fabricated.
True it is for the court to decide about the charges levelled against him in the eyes of the people he has certainly emerged as a leader.
The BJP, on its part, today is in a fix over the party’s candidate from Begusarai. Last time Bhola Singh won on its ticket. He soon became critical of the party leadership. But he died late last year.
Now, the party is thinking in term of bringing a new candidate. Union minister Giriraj Singh may be asked to shift from Nawada to Begusarai. Taking on Kanhaiya will not be an easy task for him, as the young leader enjoys the support of all the Grand Alliance parties.
The situation in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh is not much different.
If Jignesh Mewani emerged as a strong Dalit leader in Gujarat and Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakor the leading light of their respective social groups in that state, Azad is emerging as a promising future leader of the Scheduled Castes in the most populous state of the country.
Till lately, Dalits of UP had been struggling to find successor to Mayawati. But in Azad, they see a future prospect.
Over the last five years, the media have mostly been projecting that there is no leader to match the stature of Narendra Modi. Today Rahul Gandhi-led Congress is putting up a stiff challenge to him. Besides, there are hordes of other new faces to openly challenge the saffron brigade throughout the country.